Spotlight on Missionary Reza Zadeh – In The Game

For those who attended the Speed Date A Missionary nights during our 2017 Missions Focus, you met Reza Zadeh and heard his amazing testimony of how God used a group of missionary families attending a conference in Fort Collins to reach the heart of an Iranian-American college football player. Reza’s journey eventually led him into pastoral ministry and full circle back to work with athletes. Our Storytellers team took the opportunity to shine a spotlight on this local ministry.

There is little doubt that sports culture dominates our attention. We can possibly try to divert our attention away, but it’s not long before someone is bringing up the buzzer beater half-court shot that won the game, or the fifty-two-yard field goal that took the game into overtime. Even the Apostle Paul referenced sports in some of his writing. (1 Cor. 9:24-27) Certainly then, this mission of Athletes in Action, is a notable place to start dialoging about opening doors to athletes and faith in Jesus Christ our Savior.

Reza Zadeh, on staff full-time with Athletes in Action, serves athletes at Colorado State University, University of Northern Colorado, and Denver University. Zadeh conducts a CSU Bible study of 30-40 athletes and 16 athletes that are a part of Discipleship Groups. Here he says, “the athletes learn what it means to intimately follow Jesus, worship Him through their sport and learn the skill of reaching and discipling their teammates and others in the athletic department.” He also serves as a guest chaplain for visiting NFL football teams.

It seems that the potential to reach people through athletics is huge. Just look at Tim Tebow for an idea of how far an athlete’s platform can reach. However, many have a hard time meshing the components of athletics and Christianity. After all, Christianity is our everyday walk in grace and humility while sports is something of an all-out, superiority struggle. But Zadeh says, “Our hope for our college campus ministry is Every athlete, on Every team in Every athletic department. We want every team in the world to have at least one Christ Follower on it dedicated to fulfilling the Great Commission by reaching their teammates and discipling them.”

I asked Reza if he saw a specific trend in athletics today that opens the door for Athletes in Action. His response was: “There is so much pressure on athletes to perform. This pressure comes from parent’s, coaches, media, fans, alumni and keeping their scholarship. I have coached my kid’s sports teams and I see this pressure starting at a very young age. Parents are continually wanting to push their kids in hopes that their son/daughter will become the next star athlete or earn that athletic scholarship. The most damaging thing an athlete can do is put their identity and or self-worth in their sport.”

Zadeh goes on to say that, “Although sports are a wonderful thing . . . sports will let you down. Coaches, media, fans, parent’s alumni will let you down one day and your sport cannot love you the way you want it to love you.”

Athletes in Action is a mission that serves to strengthen the bond between Jesus and the athlete whether winning or not.  The schism between Christianity and sport does not have to be polarizing or inconvenient or negative. Zadeh tells us that Athletes in Action “. . . teach athletes that their identity is not in their sport, but their identity is in the One who created them and created sport in the first place. It is Jesus that gives us ultimate worth and until athletes can see that sports are a platform where they can worship Jesus rather than sports being a platform for them to be worshiped or them to worship sports-they will continually be frustrated.”

There can be a like-mindedness between Christianity and athletics. I asked Zadeh what it would look like if Jesus’ message of hope was brought to athletes today? He said this, “The message of the Gospel reminds us that our motivation in life is much bigger than wins/losses. If athletes can find a way to be motivated by the love that God has for them and allow that to drive them, then their motivation will never run out.”

Currently Athletes in Action is serving athletes at CSU, UNC, and DU. They are looking to expand to other athletic departments along the front range. (Metro State, CU, Wyoming). On a personal note, Reza Zadeh says, “We know that our athletes have the potential to reach the world. When I grab one of my college athletes or one of the NFL players that I disciple and take them to a school or a kid’s camp, every ear is attentive because they have a platform. We want to help remove the spiritual scales off the eyes of the athletes so they can see their lives and platform through the lens of the Kingdom and be a part of building the Kingdom.”

Thank you Reza for sharing your story and for your tireless effort in reaching athletes for Jesus. If you would like to know more about Athletes in Action and how you can pray for this local ministry, please contact the Missions department for information. Remember, when you give to missions through Timberline Church, you are helping to  support missionaries like Reza.

Spotlight on a Family Serving in Central Asia

Due to the sensitive nature of their work and the region where they serve, we can’t share much in the way of details about one particular missionary family that we support but had the privilege to learn more about during Missions Focus. While the husband is away planting churches and doing ministry, the wife often stays behind to care for their home and children. As she shares in her own words, ministry happens there too.  Please pray for this missionary family and others like them serving in sensitive regions like Central Asia.

Friendship:

I prayed for her for weeks.

The day I met her, she took my daughter, Ruth, from my arms and carried her the rest of the way to my house. It was a long, dusty walk. I did my best to carry a conversation with her in my new language. She was patient. She smiled. I hired her that day.

And then I called my husband, Josh and told him I had just met my new best friend. He laughed.

She started by coming to my house 2 days a week – allowing me “more time to study.” Whether she would help with cleaning, laundry, cooking or child care was yet to be determined. I had planned to use the time she was there to study behind closed doors, but when she started working in my home I felt compelled to be with her all the time. Cleaning beside her, cooking with her, folding laundry together and talking about our lives.

After being in my home only a handful of days she asked softly, “Do you know Him?”

I hesitated, wanting to be careful that I wasn’t misunderstanding because of our language barrier. I wasn’t. She knows Him too.  But she explained the horrific scene that unfolds if she studies about Him or talks about Him at home.

After lunch one afternoon I asked if she wanted to study the Word together in her language.  Not having a plan of where we would begin, she took my copy of the Book and turned to Mark’s story of Jesus. Slowly she read out loud the story of the greatest sacrifice in the history of the world.

It wasn’t where I had thought to start, but it was as if she couldn’t wait to read again about what He had done for her.  The sacrifice that He made for her.   A Love so real.  That Love – something she doesn’t find outside of knowing Him.

She comes to my house 4 days a week now.  We study in my home together. We pray together. And she asks me to pray in her language so she can understand me. She is a gift to me, and I am to her.

Often I hear her thanking Him for a sister that she has found in me. I’m grateful for our deep friendship.

Cupped Hands:

A neighbor lady stopped over the other day.

She tells me almost every time she comes that there is no other table that she enjoys sitting at more than mine. And let me just say this – every time she has come, my table has had nothing on it.

Actually, one time, she even asked me if I owned a teapot. Oops! We chatted a bit that afternoon and then she said she had work to do at home. As I was walking her out to the gate, she said she was going home to do some baking, but wasn’t sure what to bake.

I told her I had some ideas. So, she brought ingredients over and I taught her how to make chocolate cake. She tried a bite of the cake and said it tasted like something you could only buy at a restaurant. She loved it.

Then she asked if I knew how to bake bread. I answered in the affirmative. With that she cupped her hands together and said, “Your husband needs to carry you around like this.”

I didn’t tell her that he already does. That he lifts me up, that he carries me, that he knows the days that my heart is more fragile, that he values my efforts in the home and that he loves me in a cupped hands kind of way.

I couldn’t tell her, because she has never seen a cupped hands kind of love. I am asking the Lord now to give me the courage to tell her to cup her own hands. To hold them out and up, and to experience what happens when her cupped hands get filled.

You can read more from others serving in the same region at  http://silkroad.livedead.org/ 

Impacting San Francisco – The 2017 Trip Report

From March 11-18, 2017, Timberline College sent a team to San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. This tough area is one square mile that houses 37,000 people in low-income apartments, less than 0.5% of who attend a church. Needless to say, the spiritual and physical needs for this community are great.

To attend to physical needs for this impoverished area, the team volunteered at a thrift shop and at the City Impact school as well as helped with an event called TL Revive, in which they gave out food and clothes. They also helped with medical care.

In order to seek out the spiritual needs of the people, the team handed out chips or sandwiches during the evenings while asking people what they needed prayer for. Of course, some locals wanted prayer and were willing to share their stories, while others simply wanted the food and no conversation. Nevertheless, the team reached their goal of building relationships throughout the week. They said their time in San Francisco “challenged and pushed us, but we have grown to have a heart for this place and a heart for these people.”

In an area of the United States virtually forgotten by not just society but also by Christians, these tangible and intangible acts of love and kindness, which represent Christ so fully, will not soon be forgotten. Certainly the work that God has begun there will multiply in the future.

Thank you for your prayers for safety, provision and a deep connection to the Holy Spirit as He led this team through their daily interactions with the locals!

If you are interested to know more about San Francisco City Impact and all they do in the Tenderloin District, please visit: https://www.sfcityimpact.com/.  You can also learn more about the mission by watching this 4-minute video:

Speed Date A Missionary FAQ

In just two weeks, it will your opportunity to Speed Date A Missionary and so far there have been a lot of frequently asked questions.
When is it again?
Monday April 3rd and Tuesday April 4th starting at 6 p.m. and getting over around 8 o’clock.
 
Does that mean I should come both nights?
No. Both nights have exactly the same program scheduled so pick the night that works best for you.
 
How will this dating thing work?
Starting at 6 p.m., attendees will get their food and find a seat at one of the seven clusters of tables. At around 6:30, each of seven missionary couples will scatter to those groups and begin to share about themselves and their ministries leaving a little time for a few questions. After just twelve minutes total, a signal will be given and the missionaries will move on to the next group while the attendees get to stay in one place and soak in the information. Once the missionaries have made the complete rounds, the formal program is over but the missionaries will linger near a few informational tables to answer additional questions. Doing the math, attendees should be free to leave around 8 o’clock.
 
Who are the missionaries that will be there?
There are two local couples: one serving law enforcement chaplains and the other using the platform of athletics to reach the hearts of high school and college aged young people. Two are part of national ministries: one couple works to help communities thrive at The Dream Center in Utah while the other makes inroads to and through the motorcycle culture. Globally, there are three couples coming: one changing the lives of HIV/AIDS children in Uganda, one coordinating and overseeing efforts to reach our adopted region of Georgia and Armenia, and one amazing couple serving in a sensitive region where God’s love shines bright in a dark place.
 
Why do I have to sign up?
With seven couples trying to talk in the same room all at the same time without microphones…let’s just say seating is limited within each cluster of tables so that everyone can hear our guests.
 
Will you feed me?
Yes. There will be food.
 
What does it cost?
It’s free. You just have to sign up ahead of time to guarantee a seat.
 
What about my kids?
Childcare is provided, but must be signed up for in advance. Go to www.timberlinechurch.org/MissionsFocusChildcare to make your reservations.
 
It’s not too late to get a date. Sign up at the missions table in the mall to reserve your seat. And while you are there, buy your tickets for Sunday evening’s Food, Faith & Foth event and put your name in the drawing for the amazing handwoven rug from the country of Georgia.

Love Reaches: A Mission For Everyone

Over the past year, there have many internal changes within the Love Reaches (Missions) department, including the shift from a single overseeing pastor to a team approach. Since then, the missions leadership has been praying for wisdom about where God is taking us in the future and how more people can get involved. 
 
As we move towards Missions Focus weekend, here are a few thoughts to ponder:
  • Timberline Church exists to lead people into transforming relationships with Jesus Christ and others.
  • We value being respectful of people’s journey, being relational in building bridges to our community and world, being relevant in communicating truth, and being real in living and teaching.
  • We help accomplish these through expressing the message of Jesus in word and deed.
  • At Timberline, “Love Reaches” is not an add-on ministry, rather it is at the core of who we are.
  • Our “Love Reaches” responsibility is to spread the Gospel locally, nationally, and around the world.
  • Our intention is to provide opportunities for every Timberliner to be able to invest their time, talent, and treasure by praying, giving, or going.
  • We believe that as people become engaged in serving, life change occurs.
  • Our plan is to come alongside and enhance the long term work on the ground where our missionaries serve as they meet the physical and spiritual needs of their communities towards long term impact for the Kingdom.
  • We work to support our missionary partners in a way that benefits their work and not our agenda.
  • We know that God does not need us to accomplish His will on Earth, but realize that He wants us to participate.
All that to say, Love Reaches is and has a mission for everyone. How will you answer the call?

Team Heading to San Francisco

On March 11-18th, 10 Timberline College volunteers will serve people in material poverty in the Tenderloin District, one square mile in San Francisco housing 37,000 people within 586 low-income housing apartments. In partnership with City Impact, a group that exists to “intervene on behalf of the people in the inner city of San Francisco”, Timberline’s 10 volunteers hope to stand in the gaps and intercede for people who have no Christians in their lives to share the good news with them. They will deliver and serve meals, assist kids at the local school academy, bring dignity to those involved with the women’s and street ministries, and bring joy through an event called TL Revive where the community can enjoy music, free clothing, barbecue, grooming and conversation.

Please pray for safety, provision and a deep connection to the Holy Spirit as He leads these 10 missionaries in interactions with the local people. As well, many of the missionaries will have never seen a world as poverty-stricken as this area. That often means they will need an extra measure of faith and confidence in the darkest places they may go.

For more information about City Impact, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt4kHWFBO5w

To help City Impact in your own way, visit them at http://www.sfcityimpact.com

If you are interested in helping support these Timberline College volunteers, you can find more information at http://www.timberlinecollege.org

Enter To Win a Piece of the Redemption Story

tree-of-life

It’s not a celebration without a door prize and this year’s Missions Focus features a handwoven masterpiece from the Republic of Georgia. Behind the rich colors and intricate design however, lies an even more beautiful glimpse into the redemption story.

Once upon a time, the Azerbaijani people were known for their beautiful rugs. The skill was passed on from grandmothers to mothers to daughters and many of their finished products are currently displayed in museums around the world. But as modernization crept into the culture, carpets replaced rugs, machines replaced women, and synthetic dyes replaced the natural colors until the tradition almost vanished.

tree-of-life-detail

Along came a man who had studied how to make rugs and how to dye the yarn made from hand-spun wool. This same man and his wife longed to build bridges of relationship to reach this primarily Muslim people group, starting with those living inside the borders of the Republic of Georgia. Because of their desire to resurrect this lost art and provide a sustainable income for a family, they started to teach women to weave again. Today, all proceeds from the sale of each rug remain in the weaver’s village. (Find out more about the rugs at rewoven.net.)

Timberline Missions has purchased one of these rugs, specifically one featuring the Tree of Life design. Valued at $1200, the rug measures six feet two inches by four feet seven inches. The weaver, a woman named Mubarak, is the youngest of twelve children and has a daughter of her own. Using her eye for color, she has placed a personal touch within the design using drawings from her child’s school notebook.

tree-of-life-in-progress

In addition to the usual blue and white trees on a red background, she has included a collection of animals and family members including butterflies, shepherds, turtles, children, and reindeer.

How can you enter to win this gorgeous reminder to pray for the Azerbaijani people and the Republic of Georgia? Simply stop by the missions table in the mall during one of the weekend services in March to put your name in the drawing. The winning name will be announced Sunday evening April 2nd during the Food, Faith, and Foth event.